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Poll: Hochul starts favorably, Cuomo ends on historic low

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a press conference in Harlem August 26. Credit: Chris Ware

ALBANY – Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first weeks on the job are drawing support from New Yorkers, although a large swath of voters still don’t know her, according to a poll released Tuesday.

In contrast, her predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, ended his tenure with historically low ratings.

The Siena College poll found 42% of voters view Hochul favorably so far, three weeks into her tenure, compared with 17% unfavorably. About 74% of those surveyed said they are excited to have New York’s first female governor.

The downside for Hochul is that 41% told Siena they don’t know enough about the new governor to have an opinion.

The survey also found an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support a variety of COVID-19 mandates, including on vaccines and masks.

Hochul took over on Aug. 24 after Andrew M. Cuomo resigned following an attorney general’s report that concluded he sexually harassed multiple women and an Assembly committee signaled it would hold an impeachment vote on that issue and other charges by the end of September.

Hochul, a Democrat from Buffalo and former congresswoman, had served as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor for nearly seven years. But, like many lieutenant governors, she had a low profile and was not close to the governor.

That’s a large part of why so many voters say they still don’t know her. But she’s getting good reviews so far, Siena found.

"While still largely unknown to a wide swath of New Yorkers, Gov. Hochul begins her tenure with a lot of good will from voters," said Steve Greenberg, spokesman for the Siena Research Institute. "Among those with an opinion about her, she is viewed strongly favorably, although two in five New Yorkers don’t yet have an opinion, despite Hochul having been … elected statewide twice."

A majority think Hochul successfully will ensure in-classroom instruction for students (69%-16%), control the spread of COVID-19 (61%-24%) and employ a more collaborative approach than Cuomo (52%-18%), the poll found.

The poll of 700 New York State registered voters was conducted from Sept. 7-12.

Cuomo, who was first elected governor in November 2010, ended his tenure with his worst ratings ever in the Siena poll. Just 34% of voters viewed him favorably – down from 45% in June.

Besides the sexual harassment allegations, the Assembly had been investigating allegations that Cuomo used state personnel and resources to produce a pandemic memoir that landed him a $5.1 million book deal, and undercounted deaths due to COVID-19 in nursing homes to deflect criticism of his health care policies.

Regarding the pandemic, New Yorkers strongly support a variety of mandates, the poll found:

-- 69% of voters support mandating teachers and staff to be vaccinated, compared with 26% opposed.

-- 65% support employers requiring employees to be vaccinated; 31% opposed.

-- 74% support government requiring masks in indoor facilities; 21% opposed.

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